Attorney General out with ways to avoid falling prey to ‘overpayment scam’

Scams

(WTNH) — It’s a new take on an old scam, and it has Connecticut’s Attorney General sounding the alarm. While it is easy to sell things on social media to make some money, there’s a way you can lose money, too, if you fall victim to a criminal running what’s called the overpayment scam.

“So, let’s say you’re selling something for $500, and they send you $2,000,” explained Attorney General William Tong (D-CT). “And they say, ‘Oh geez, I messed up. Can you send me back the difference?'”

Tong says they often sweeten the deal, saying keep a hundred extra for yourself. They will also say they need that money fast – too fast for the check to clear. That’s the idea.

“The check they received in the first place was a bad check. They never got any money,” said Tong.
The victim of the scam sent them real money back, however. For Tong, fighting this scam is personal. His own mother got scammed.

“Someone was trying to rent an apartment from her. They sent her too much money,” he explained. “They said, ‘Oh geez, sorry. Can you send us back the difference?’ She did. Several thousand dollars.”

The easy fix is to wait for the check to clear. Or to go to the bank and make sure the check or money order is legit. That is what one local justice of the peace did, and it saved him from getting scammed.

Last year, we told you about West Haven resident Steven Mullins, who got a money order for way more than his fee to perform a wedding. Then he got a text saying it was a mistake.

“Instead of him sending a separate check to you and our photographer, he sent both on a single check,” read the text.

Of course, the scammer wanted a check for the difference. A bank teller spotted the money order as phony. Tong says these scams are on the rise. He warns people not to fall for the time pressure.

“If someone says, ‘I need the money now. I need you to wire the money now. You need to send me money now,’ Even if that might be true, walk away,” Tong warned.

If you do end up getting scammed, file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection so there is a paper trail.

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